Federal prosecutors today charged a Winchester man with wire fraud for his four applications for federal loans aimed at helping small businesses continue to make payroll despite losses related to Covid-19, alleging he made up employee numbers and that the few employees he does have are all based in India.
According to a federal complaint unsealed today, Elijah Majak Buoi of Winchester was rejected for three of his applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans - which can be converted to grants - but was granted $2 million on the fourth, despite giving different employee and payroll numbers on the applications.
In addition to having Buoi arrested today, the US Attorney's office is asking a judge to freeze his bank accounts so he cannot transfer the money he received out of the country. At his arraignment, a federal magistrate judge in Worcester set cash bail of $15,000.
According to an affidavit by an FBI agent on the case, Buoi runs a technology consulting firm out of his house called Sosuda Tech, LLC, for which he submitted four different PPP applications between April and June.
Although the federal government funding the program, it designated banks and other lenders to administer applications and loan approvals. The government says the loans are converted into grants for companies that can prove they met certain conditions - such as continuing to meet payroll for two months.
The affidavit states that Buoi first filed a PPP application with Bank of America in April for $7.5 million, based on the 353 employees he said he had, all allegedly in Massachusetts. After the bank rejected his request, he tried again with three other lenders, asking each for $2 million, with his employee count on applications ranging from 18 to 96 employees.
The first two lenders also rejected his requests, but the final one, to which he claimed he had 96 US employees, approved his request and he had $2 million deposited in his Bank of America checking account earlier this month.
According to the affidavit, Buoi's LinkedIn page says he has just five employees, and all are in India, making them ineligible for PPP coverage.
The affidavit says the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance lists no required quarterly statements from Buoi's company.
According to the affidavit, Buoi transferred some $1.2 million of the PPP payment from one Bank of America account to another and has withdrawn $27,000 of it - $20,000 in a wire transfer to India.